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Inspiring media outlets to promote cheese and dairy

Feb. 7, 2013 | 0 comments


One way to promote Wisconsin cheese and dairy products is to pay for advertising in newspapers and magazines, and on radio and television.

A more strategic way is to interest writers and broadcasters to view cheese and dairy as an interesting topic for their stories.

Heather Porter Engwall’s job at the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board is to inspire editors, writers and bloggers to promote cheese and dairy.

One of the ways to do this is to invite them to take part in tours that include farms and cheese plants. She also builds rapport through what she terms, "Desk side briefings."

"It’s important to connect directly with food editors," she said. "Readership in magazines like Good Housekeeping, Oprah, Family Circle, Martha Stewart, Women’s World, Better Homes and Gardens and others is still really strong."

Some magazine editors express immediate interest in carrying feature stories about Wisconsin cheese. Others take a little longer to show them the benefits of this type of story.

As a result of several years of work with the editors of Midwest living, dairy will be featured in an eight-page spread in the March issue. The advertising industry places the value of this "free publicity" in comparison to paid ads at $972,000.

Porter Engwall said work began with the editor two years ago during a tour but the effort has paid off with stories about the Master Cheesemaker program, farms, small towns, cheese varieties, farmers as environmentalists and milk quality all woven into the pages of the story.

The tours have been expanded to include wine and breweries. Often editors have some sort of a tie to

Wisconsin and these tours inspire them to go back to talk about Wisconsin cheese. Writing about food and beverage pairings has also been very popular.

Regarding the tours, Porter Engwall says, "Our tours really connect people. We not only interest them in writing about Wisconsin dairy but we also connect bloggers and writers with each other. We are able to change their perspective and put our own spin on it."

When it comes to promoting dairy through social media and blogs, she points out, "Reaching consumers directly through the social media can be beneficial but it can also do harm. We need to make sure what is put out there is accurate. There are a lot of Mommy bloggers and we are there to give them the right information."


Most popular of her department’s efforts has been the introduction of "Grate, Pair, Share," WMMB’s new online consumer magazine about cooking and entertaining with Wisconsin cheese.

The magazine has been promoted through press releases, social media, bloggers and cheese experts who contribute to the issue.

In the first week on the virtual newsstand last December, "Grate, Pair, Share" reached 130,000 views. By the time she reported on the effort to the directors last Tuesday (Jan. 22) there were over two million views.

The numbers also show that readers are returning to the site often, an indication of its popularity.

The magazine is included among those listed on the on-line publishing network, ISSUU.

Patrick Geoghegan, who oversees corporate communications for WMMB, explained, "This is the site that houses all the on-line food magazines. When it was initially listed viewers had to scroll down to find it. As the magazine grew in popularity it moved up and is now the first one listed on the site."

He said the position the magazine has on the site is driven by the number of consumer hits and it is an indication of the popularity of the magazine.

Porter Engwall also works with the editors of food-service publications, providing recipes and artwork and information about cheese.

The stories done by these editors influence chefs and restaurant operators to include cheese on their menus and as ingredients in their foods and help them promote the dishes to lure customers.


Work has also been done to update the website, separating food service from retail.

LuAnn Lodl is the computer guru for WMMB and told the directors, "We want to make it easier for food service people to find what they want quickly. We know they want recipes quickly. We know they want recipes and they want quick information on how to source various cheeses. They will now be able to quickly find them listed by type or by company."

The site also provides information about substitutions of one kind of cheese for another.

WMMB contracts with a website builder who also does maintenance on the site on a contract basis but Lodl handles the routine updating.

"Geoghegan says, "The easier we can make it for them to navigate the more they will use it."

WMMB has a variety of on-line resources including Eat WisconsinCheese, Locate Wisconsin Cheese, Dairy Doing More, WMMB Corporate, Cheese and Burger Society, Cheese Cupid, Grilled Cheese Academy and Butter is Best.

Other on-line resources include WisconsinCheeseTalk.com; Pinterest.com/Wisconsin

Cheese; Facebook.com/

WisconsinCheese; Twitter.com/WisconsinCheese; YouTube.com/WisconsinCheeseTalk; WisconsinCheese.Tumblr.com; Twitter.com/DairyDoingMore; Facebook.com/DairyDoing

More; YouTube.com/Dairy


Also available online are video tours of the Wisconsin dairy industry and an opportunity to meet the people, places and products that make Wisconsin America’s Dairyland.

These include Wisconsin, America’s Dairyland at www.WMMB.com/AD; Wisconsin Dairy News at www.WMMB.com/WDN; and Wisconsin America’s Dairyland gift catalog at www.WMMBCatalog.com.

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